Over 40, is the Party Over?

paula mangin party illustration










I had lunch with a friend the other day.

We work in related fields (me, advertising, she, photography/design in advertising and marketing) and talked about, or more like moaned about how confused and horrified we were about getting older in a career category where anybody over 40 “has expired” and may as well be thrown away.

And try being over 40 in San Francisco. I feel like I’m living in a giant party full of Millennials that I wasn’t invited to or want to attend, but I’m here, standing in the corner of a loud and crowded room, alone. It’s not like I want to join the fun, I don’t, but I don’t even have the choice to decline conversation because no one goes near me or knows I’m even here.


This friend had a birthday a few weeks ago. And like me, she wasn’t even invited to her own birthday party. At least that how it felt.

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to be anymore,” she said before taking a bite of her panini. What she was, and me too, was someone feeling too old to try to fit into the current state of young selfied affairs, and too young to throw in the towel and along with our platform creepers.

She had sadly suffered through her birthday, made worse because her husband was leaving for a few weeks for work. Right before he called Uber, he grabbed her computer and pulled up this amazing video of Patti Smith’s commencement speech at Pratt. He said something like, “See? How cool is Patti. She has these kids in awe and is who she has always been and is supposed to be. This is you.” His iphone buzzed, “Herman” had arrived, and off he went.

I still feel 12, or 18, or 5. I continue to clomp around in Dr. Martens boots and ripped tights and my pink hair flying high. When I see a 22-year-old in similar togs, I’m a bit embarrassed. (Like the time when I wore the exact same half sweat/half jeans that Miley Cyrus sported on fashion “don’t” lists; you can read about that here). It’s all so confusing.

But whatever. We’re trying to work it out. We’ll crash the party in our own way. Pass the punch.


4 Responses

  1. kristinhklein@gmail.com'

    Love this post, Mangin! Made me remember that even back in the ’90’s when I was still under 40, I am so uncool I am cool! I had forgotten and I love you for reminding me!!!!

    1. Paula

      Hammer! Someone I missed this comment until now! So glad you liked this and read the blog. Taking this to email. Mangin will always love Hammer. xoxo

  2. aratner@nyc.rr.com'

    Yes! When I turned 40, I didn’t give a shit anymore. Be who you always wanted to be but maybe held back. Let your freak flag fly! One thing I don’t want to do is get old and feel bad that I wasn’t true to myself. I dress the way I want to dress & I don’t care if I get looks of disdain. Please yourself & be true to who you are on the inside, even if it’s a teenager, which is what’s inside me. It’s part of living life to the fullest and the bonus is not caring what others think. That’s the good thing about aging. I’m embracing it!

    1. paula@boycemangin.com'

      Hi Andrea:

      Thanks so much for writing. I love what you wrote and you are totally right!

      BTW, have you been to Totokaelo yet, the Seattle boutique that opened in NYC? Let me know!
      Have a great weekend!

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